6

I was reminded by @explore-blog that Beatrix Potter (born 150 years and one day ago) wasn’t just a beloved children’s author and illustrator - she was an enthusiastic amateur mycologist. Before she drew Peter Rabbit, she drew mushrooms!

These beautiful illustrations were shared with Skunk Bear by The Armitt, a charming museum/library/gallery nestled in Lake District Natural Park in Northern England.

9

Please don’t panic, the Xenomorphs haven’t reached Earth (yet). Today the Department of Awesome Natural Wonders is checking out a fantastically freaky fungus that just happens to look like a freshly hatched alien egg. This otherworldly fungus has an equally awesome name too. Octopus Stinkorn (Clathrus archeri). Native to Australia and New Zealand and also called the Devil’s Finger Fungus, it begins its lifecycle as a sinister gelatinous white orb.

Next the fruiting body bursts forth in the form of four to eight fleshy blood-red arms. These tentacular limbs stretch out to release their facehugger spores as a dark olive-colored mass called a gleba.

This time-lapse video shows the devil’s fingers emerging from their ominous orb:

As its name implies, the mature flesh of the Octopus Stinkhorn is incredibly smelly. It reeks of putrid flesh, which attracts flies and other insects, whose tiny feet end up coated in sticky spores, enabling the fungus to spread and start its nightmarish lifecycle all over again.

A few hours after releasing its spores the fungus will being to disintegrate. But it’s epic rotting odor will linger in the minds of anyone who came near it.

You might be surprised to learn that the Devil’s Finger fungus is completely safe to eat. But safe doesn’t necessarily mean tasty. Considered as a food of last resort by Aborigines, according to Kuriositas the flesh tastes like rancid radish. Yum!

Photos by Dan Hoare, Jose Delgar, CountryMouse13, Steveb68, and the Wikimedia Commons respectively.

[via Nerdist and Kuriositas]